Politics & Media
Oct 09, 2008, 05:09AM

What Would Make Me Vote for McCain?

Here are some things the tanking Republican could do that might allow young voters to take him seriously.

Blurrymccain.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Photo by marcn.

I remember very distinctly the patriotic goosebumps I got last fall driving down Huron St. in Ann Arbor when I thought about the coming election. There was a chance, however unlikely, that I would get to live through a real brawler between two political heavyweights, the first election in my lifetime where I would be undecided at the outset. If only my candidates were picked.

In one corner stood a man I heard about first from a photographer who used to work at the Daily, a man with a name I couldn't remember who was running for Senate in Illinois and, thanks to the single-track mind of Alan Keyes, might actually win. He did. And when I saw him give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, he was my candidate. Senator Barack Obama. The cheers in the Fleet Center were even louder than they were on television. And now that man was doing what we all wished he would've done four years prior—run for President.

And in the other corner stood Senator John McCain, a man whose career I respected and politics I admired, whom I wanted desperately to win in 2000 and whose campaign was dealt a defeat by my fellow South Carolinians, to my great embarrassment. But now he was back in the ring, in part due to that same fickle state. You'd be crazy even to pray for something so far-fetched. Political goosebumps.

I don't think I was alone in that feeling. Nor was I alone in the deep disappointment that followed, when McCain's campaign dipped into Rovian tactics that were proven to bring victory, no matter if they compromised his character in the process.

Now, with the second debate in the past and the Armchair Electoral College employed by the major news networks already deciding the election for Obama, we have time to ask a very serious hypothetical: What would make me vote for McCain?

Pronounce "Senator" as three syllables, not two
I'm okay with McCain calling Barack “Mr. Obama” or even “that one,” but I cringe instinctively when he blunders through Obama's proper title. I'm not asking for an Alan Keyes level of articulation, but at least strive for something higher than Lou Holtz, won't you, “Sen-nor” McCain?

Re-Hire Mike Murpny as your Campaign Manager
A large part of that Straight Talk magic that we saw on the campaign trail in 2000 was due to the very candid Mike Murphy (you may remember him being rather too candid about Sarah Palin without realizing his microphone was on). Murphy knew how to talk to the press and, more importantly, how to let his candidate talk to the press. With him went the sense of devious fun that always seemed to follow John McCain. Now, only the deviousness remains.

Fire Sarah Palin

Forget that the Palin-Biden debate was ruled a tie. Remember that the standards for a Palin “win” were so low she could have forced a tie by detailing how to properly field dress a moose, if only she was coherent while doing so. Admit to the American people that politics can sometimes be more about image than substance. Elected officials shouldn't resemble the average American, they should resemble the best American. I want McCain to find someone who fits this description.

Explain how politics work

In his 27 years in the Senate, I'm sure McCain has stories of backroom deals, of good bills bloated and sabotaged with amendments, of frustration and corruption and small glimpses of triumph amid the bureaucracy. After 27 years, I'm sure McCain has mastered the minutiae more than most—certainly more than Obama. I want to hear what Obama doesn't know and will likely never learn in the Senate. McCain has experience and I want to hear about it.


Now, I admit the possibility of McCain doing even one of these is even more far-fetched than his South Carolina win. This time, the Armchair Electoral College are probably right—this won't be McCain's year, just as 2000 wasn't. After this second chance, he won't get a third.

But this means that McCain will go back to the Senate, where he'll be just as self-effacing as always, and just as effective. And let's be honest—this is exactly where we all want John McCain. Probably, this is where John McCain, the real John McCain, wants to be too.

  • What would make me vote for McCain? Absolutely nothing. Before he sold his integrity down the river, I thought he was a dangerous candidate precisely because many people who might otherwise find his policies disagreeable admire and respect him. So, I guess I should thank him for turning into a jerk.

    Responses to this comment
  • I second that. I used to like McCain. Granted, that was a long time ago, but I respected his take on issues. Once he realized he had to pander to his party to get the nomination, everything else that followed went out the window. Had he been able to choose his long-time friend and colleague, Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his running mate, he would have proven in front of the whole country that HE was the one running for President, not the Republican Party.

    Responses to this comment
  • Unlike the two commenters above, I never liked McCain, and don't believe his integrity was pristine by any means. I don't like his pandering the religious right this time around, but I don't like Obama pandering to the unions. To me, although I'm sure both are honorable men, it's, once again, the lesser of two political evils.

    Responses to this comment
  • The man is the LAST person we would want to be the "calm" and "wise" hand on the trigger. He is a notorious hot-head and militarily, the definition of a defiant and gutless screw-up. While it is heart-breaking what he had to go through in Vietnam, he never EVER should have been allowed to be flying a government plane to begin with! Read this: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/make_believe_maverick_the_real_john_mccain/page/1

    Responses to this comment
  • I don't think anyone is either saying or implying McCain has/had "pristine integrity." I disagree on this being a lesser of two evils case. I'll admit I don't like unions. I have always felt they do more harm than good. However, I believe it says something when McCain makes claims that the economy is ok because we have the best workers in the world, and a lot of those workers, (being unionized), support Obama instead.

    Responses to this comment
  • I realize that the majority of my recent articles reference DFW, but if you haven't yet read his Rolling Stone piece on McCain in 2000, I suggest you do so. It might give you a new perspective: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/18420304/the_weasel_twelve_monkeys_and_the_shrub/

    Responses to this comment
  • O.K. TIC2 strikes again with his/her PC be nice garbage. Here is the staight dope, McCain is clearly suffering from health issues that affect his sanity. He can't keep countries, religous sects, or strategies straight. Mind you, I'm not trying to insult the man, I just think it is obvious to anyone who has looked at his career over the past 10 years. His pick of Palin would NEVER have occured if he was all there. Basically, he wouldn't so maleable, if he had full control.

    Responses to this comment
  • McCain has, finally, backed off saying the economy is okay. And yes, Obama does have the vast support of unionized workers, although in 2008 that's a very small percentage of the work force. McCain is floundering, it's true, but what's he supposed to say, "We have really shitty workers"? As for McCain's "integrity," a lot of that public perception had to do with the media's infatuation with him until recently. He's compiled a very conservative voting record, including pro-life measures, which ought to be anathema to the media and liberals, but his wise-cracking made up for it.

    Responses to this comment
  • Not that my vote counts, living in New York, which is frustrating and only adds to my long-held conviction that the Electoral College should be abandoned in favor of the popular vote, but I like Forest Casey's idea of McCain getting Mike Murphy back. He's one of the few consultants who's bright, fairly forthright with the media and, for one of his ilk, seems pretty honest. Obama's pretty much nailed the election, but McCain ought to pull out all the stops. I guess his tank is empty.

    Responses to this comment
  • I wish i knew this John McCain that errbody is so excited about. I've heard so much about him. Casey is right that this McCain is straight out of the Karl Rove playbook. I don't think I could ever in life vote for McCain. At least if he'd picked an inneresting veep, THAT would have been good.

    Responses to this comment
  • Hey everybody, you better be nice...and PC. How'd I do?

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment